There have been a rare number of times in my life when I have had the great honor to spend time in the company of those individuals who I would define as having strong and lasting national influence. This week was one of those times, the individual was George Barna who, by the way, has been hailed as “the most quoted person in the Christian Church today” George has filled executive roles in politics, marketing, advertising, media development, research and ministry. He founded the Barna Research Group in 1984 (now The Barna Group) and helped it become a leading marketing research firm focused on the intersection of faith and culture. He’s written more than 50 books, mostly addressing cultural trends, leadership, spiritual development, and church dynamics and sold more books based on survey research related to matters of faith than any author in American history.
As I drove George around Ohio from event to event hearing him share about the importance and power of a worldview, I was inspired and challenged at the same time. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” Paul wrote to the church at Phillipi. However, it is aimed squarely at every believer in the world today. Georges words were, “you do what you believe. Embracing a biblical worldview is your best attempt to think like Jesus so that you can live like Jesus.”
Simply defined, a worldview is a comprehensive set of truth claims that purports to paint a picture of reality; the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. A biblical worldview therefore would find at its center the scriptures and the truth of who Jesus is. Author Os Guinness describes it this way “A Christian worldview involves believers thinking about anything and everything in a manner that is consistently shaped, directed, and restrained by the truth of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Such a Christian worldview encompasses core issues and answers such questions as, who am I? Where did I come from? What’s my purpose? Where am I going? Is there a Creator, or are we the products of blind chance? If there is a Creator, what, if anything, does He expect of me?”
This applies to everyone everywhere all the time. For example, people… view pornography … because of their worldview, support open borders … because of their worldview, promote socialism … because of their worldview. They support LGBTQ lifestyles … because of their worldview, they get married, divorced … because of their worldview. They give public funds to the poor … because of their worldview, choose an abortion … because of their worldview, or engage with a church … because of their worldview.
Here’s where it gets incredibly interesting and very troubling. According to George, an Americans’ worldview develops between 15-18 months and 13 years of age. So, by age 13 you develop lifelong characteristics: moral foundations, theological foundations, faith commitments and priorities and habits. Hold on to your hat here… he then states, with a few exceptions and modifications… you will die believing what you believed at age 13
Aubrey Vaughan, in Essential Worship writes, “In our 21st century western society there has been a huge paradigm shift, a turning away from Judea/Christian God centered worldview, to a new atheism which desires a complete secularization of society with non-religious (irreligious) values and secular institutions. But the very fact they are turning away from God doesn’t mean they are turning to something which is neutral. In fact, to turn away from God means you have to be turning to something else, which by default becomes our 21st century idols”
I fear that we risk failing to be good stewards of the culture God has placed us in. Charles Colson writes in his book, How Shall We Live, the solution to the modern-day identity crisis of the American Christian. “How do we redeem a culture? How do we rise to the opportunity before us at the start of a new millennium? The answer is simple: from the inside out. From the individual to the family to the community, and then outward in ever widening ripples. We must begin by understanding what it means to live by Christian worldview principles in our own behavior and choices. Unless we do, we will interpret the biblical commands according to the spirit of the age and will therefore be conformed to the world rather than to God’s Word” Christ followers have an amazing opportunity in an amazing time.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Absorbing these facts are a bit overwhelming, especially knowing that riding with George is one thing, standing before God and answering for my action or inaction in light of what I known and what I have done is quite another.
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council in Washington.